Atlantic 10 adds Loyola-Chicago starting in 2022; is another school next?

Big news from the Atlantic 10 today: the conference is adding Loyola University Chicago starting in the 2022-2023 season.

This is a major get for the A-10: the Ramblers made the 2018 Final Four in a memorable run (remember Sister Jean?) as well as the Sweet 16 last year, and it gives the A-10 a spot in the Chicago media market.

About the school

The school fields 13 of the conference's 21 sports, and they also won the 1963 NCAA basketball national championship. (That makes them the second A-10 school with a natty, as La Salle won in 1953-54.) I assume they are joining for all sports but the press release isn't clear on that.

The school is bigger than I thought with 17,000 undergrads and is located on the shores of Lake Michigan on the north side of the city. They are moving from the Missouri Valley Conference, which they joined in 2013. Some wags on Twitter joked that if you are in a smaller conference and go to the Final Four, the A-10 will invite you -- think George Mason, VCU, and Butler. (Let's hope they don't bolt after a year like Butler, though.) Head coach Porter Moser left after last season to take over at Oklahoma, so let's hope they keep it up. They're 2-0 this year with wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Coppin State.

Here's the A-10's full press release.

Someone else also joining the conference?

It's a great move for Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade, and means the conference now has an odd number of teams, with 15. That raises the question: is another school coming to make it 16? Basketball writer Jon Rothstein suggests Temple, though it's not clear if he just thinks that's a good idea or actually has some knowledge. He notes that Temple should find another home for their D1 football program, which has been historically terrible.

Other Twitter folks suggested that Wichita State would be a good fit in the conference (great team, big school, new market, no football) and there are other perennial candidates out there too, like College of Charleston, Old Dominion, Boston U., or even NYC-area options like Stony Brook or Hofstra (especially if the conference kicks out Fordham, something I have long argued for.) Belmont had been suggested for a while as a good basketball school in the big Nashville market, but they just announced they're joining the Missouri Valley. Murray State is another getting some traction online.

In 2013 when Temple, Butler, Xavier and Charlotte all left the conference, I came up with some other ideas for replacements, which included Mason and Davidson, so go me. Others were Army and Navy, though they have football and I doubt Navy would leave the AAC, James Madison (top tier FCS football) and others like Vermont, Drexel, Northeastern, UNC-Wilmington, and Bucknell. However, in the preceding 8 years, a lot of those schools' basketball profiles have dropped.

However other schools have grown in stature like Florida Gulf Coast, Winthrop, Iona and Buffalo -- those all might be interesting. (Buffalo, of course, also has BCS football, which makes it trickier.) There are also solid Midwestern basketball schools like Drake, Valparaiso and Northern Iowa, but I don't know if they'd want to leave their regional rivals. Delaware also apparently wants to join the A-10, but not sure how much that would add to the conference.

Who else would you suggest? Let us know in the comments.


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